Lewis Gregory in England Squad

Celebrating the inclusion of Lewis Gregory in the England squad for the game against Ireland.

INTRODUCTION

Some of my recent posts (particularly those about England test teams accommodating two spinners) have taken the inclusion of Somerset all-rounder Lewis Gregory as read…

IT IS NOW

Today on cricinfo I was delighted to see that on this occasion at least what is obvious to me has also proven obvious to Ed Smith (whose opinions matter rather more in the current scheme of things!) and Gregory is in the squad announced for the one off test match against Ireland next week. True, given what he has been doing for Somerset recently this was a totally obvious call, but anyone who has followed English cricket as long as I have knows that that does not necessarily mean that it will happen!

I am delighted that Lewis Gregory has been given the call-up and I seriously hope that he plays rather than winding up as drinks waiter. A second of my calls – Jason Roy into the test team off the back of a tremendous World Cup – has also been made by a higher authority. My biggest call of all has yet to be made, but ever the optimist I am not prepared to abandon it just yet.

The cricinfo article can be read here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Health Update

The latest (big) news on my health situation.

INTRODUCTION

In the last week there have been two significant milestones in the story of my recovery from the cancer that nearly killed me back in October. In this post I deal with them in turn.

THE BIG OPERATION

I went into hospital early on Friday morning to have the original source of all the trouble, my right testicle, removed. Since they had decided they were keeping me in overnight anyway my surgery was performed quite some time after my parents and I had arrived. It went well, and I was transferred to a recovery ward for the night. Once I had demonstrated that I was able to walk the following day they were ready to discharge me, but not before they had taken me off the morphine based painkillers I had been on, limiting to me to paracetamol. Fortunately the pain from the operation site is not actually as bad as all that, and the paracetamol are sufficient for the job.

THE BIG NEWS

On Monday I was back at Addenbrookes to see the oncology people. They were happy with the state of the operation site. Far more significantly they confirmed that my tumour markers are now back at normal, healthy levels. After a couple of appointments next month (which were set up just after we had left Addenbrookes, and which I found out about the following morning) it will be three monthly, and then six monthly check ups for a five-year period. Once I am fully recovered from the operation I will be on the last (admittedly long) road to a full recovery.

TAPPING HOUSE

On Tuesday afternoon I visited the Norfolk Hospice at Tapping House to discuss future physio options. They can offer me Thursday morning sessions there, and of course I will be taking them up. I am thinking at the moment of notifying them that I will be ready 2 weeks today (next week is probably pushing it too far).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign-off…

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The Greatest World Cup Final Ever

An autistic cancer survivor’s eye (and ear) view of yesterday’s World Cup Final at Lord’s.

INTRODUCTION

First a little bit of background about the occasion from my point of view. On Friday I went in to hospital for a procedure known as a “Radical Inguinal Orchidectomy” as the latest stage in the treatment of the cancer that less than a year ago threatened to kill me. The operation was performed under general anaesthetic, and I was kept in hospital overnight, and only discharged on the Saturday once I had demonstrated my capacity to walk unaided. Thus yesterday, the day of the Mens Cricket Cup World Final, was my first full day out of hospital after the operation.

THE MATCH ITSELF

New Zealand had beaten India through a splendid display of controlled seam and swing bowling to qualify for the final while England had disposed of arch-rivals Australia with satisfying ease to book their place in the final. Everything seemed to point to an England win, but New Zealand had dealt very well with theoretically far superior opposition in the semi-final. As it was on free-to-air TV (the first time any cricket match in England has been thus broadcast since 2005) I was initially picked up by my father and taken over to my aunt’s house to watch the match. England bowled well to restrict New Zealand to 241. New Zealand however learned well from the England bowlers and England were soon behind the required rate. I missed a tiny bit of the England innings when I was taken home, being by then thoroughly exhausted. Back in my own home I listened to the astonishing climax and followed the ball-by-ball updates on cricinfo. The possessor of the coolest name in international cricket, Colin de Grandhomme, bowled the most economical allocation of 10 overs by anyone in the entire tournament (1-25), but Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes kept cool heads and kept England just about in contention deep into the final overs. When the final over began England needed 16 to win, and they got 15 of them to tie (aided by a very fortunate four overthrows which gave them six instead of two on one of the deliveries), which meant a “super over’. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler took centre stage once more, while after a long delay Trent Boult accepted responsibility for bowling the over for New Zealand. England made 15 runs of the over. 24-year old Jofra Archer accepted responsibility for bowling the final over, while New Zealand sent out Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill. Archer’s first delivery was somewhat harshly called a wide, and then Neesham blasted a six, at which point it looked all over for England, but Archer responded and eventually it came to two needed of one ball, with Guptill on strike for the first time. Guptill hit it out into the deep, where Jason Roy fielded, and arrowed in a superb throw to Jos Buttler who whipped the bails off to run out Guptill, who was obliged by circumstances to go all out for the second. Thus the super-over contest had also ended in a tie. The next method of dividing the two teams if the super over did not work was on boundaries hit, and on that criterion England were ahead and so finally, after three previous losing finals (1979, 1987-8 and 1991-2) England’s men had won a cricket world cup. The Women’s cricket world cup is also held by England courtesy of a wonderful piece of bowling by Anya Shrubsole at Lord’s two years ago. This is the first time any country other than Australia have held both men’s and women’s world cups simultaneously. A low scoring day provided just about the most thrilling contest ever seen in any sport, with England taking the spoils by the narrowest possible margin – the cricket equivalent of winning by a Planck Length!

This match is ‘Exhibit A’ in the argument against anyone who dares claim that cricket is boring. Cricket has produced plenty of extraordinary games before in its long history – Warwickshire v Hampshire in 1922, when Hampshire recovered from bowled out for 15 in their first dig to win by 155 runs, Headingley 1981, when Ian Botham, with assistance from Graham Dilley, Chris Old and Bob Willis gave England something to defend when they seemed down and out, and Willis than saved his international career by taking 8-43 to win it for England being just two that spring to mind. Also, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th test matches of the 2005 Ashes series were all classics in their different ways.

This match on its own would probably be sufficient to call this the greatest world cup ever, but there were plenty of other good matches along the way.

Ben Stokes with his Herculean efforts in this match redeemed himself completely for a somewhat chequered past. Also, he has shown a consistency here that has previously eluded him – his 84 was his fourth 80-plus of the tournament and he also scored a 79. One way of accommodating him in the test side, which needs to be thought about would to gamble a little by having Ben Foakes at five, followed by Stokes, Gregory, Bess, Archer, Leach and Anderson, meaning that Stokes would be fourth seamer, backing up the main attack of Archer, Anderson, Gregory and the spinners.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign-off…

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England Test XIs With Two Spinners

Some possible ways to incorporate two spinners into the England test team.

INTRODUCTION

This post is inspired by a post that appeared this morning on Toby’s Sporting Views. He was writing about an excellent bowling performance by Somerset’s spinners against Nottinghamshire on day two of their match, and I am looking specifically at an aspect he raised relating to this, namely two spinners playing for England in the Ashes tests this summer.

SETTING PARAMETERS

I am basing all my possible XIs around five specialist batters with Ben Foakes at six and wearing the gloves. The other fixed position, since he is indispensable in test cricket at present is James Anderson at no 11 and as one of new ball bowlers. Therefore the positions up for dispute are 7, 8, 9 and 10, which will be filled by two spinners and two quicks. Thus form my purposes each permutation will involve four cricketers, as I need not mention the others. Neither Adil Rashid nor Moeen Ali have done enough with the ball of late to merit consideration, and Lancashire’s Matthew Parkinson while promising is not as yet ready for elevation, so the two spinners would be Leach and Bess, becoming a latter day Lock and Laker.

1: THE PURE ENGLISH

In so far as such a line-up can be typical English this one is. It features Lewis Gregory at number 7, Sam Curran at number 8 and sharing the new ball with James Anderson, with Bess and Leach the two spinners at nos 9 and 10.

2: EXTRA PACE I

This one dispenses with Curran, and brings in either Jofra Archer or Mark Wood to bowl outright fast, sharing the new ball with Anderson.

3: EXTRA PACE II

This one dispenses with Gregory, having Curran move up to seven and playing one of Archer or Wood  along with the two spinners and Anderson. This is more of a gamble as it misses out on Gregory’s batting, which is better than that of any of the others.

4: THE OUTRIGHT GAMBLE

This one dispenses with both Curran and Gregory, and brings in both of the super-speedsters Wood and Archer, one of whom would perforce come on first change. This would likely mean Archer at no 7, Bess at no 8, Leach no 9, Wood no 10 and Anderson no 11, which is where the gamble is – there is no one who can really be called an all-rounder here, just five bowlers.

5: ANOTHER GAMBLE

My final possibility features picking Ben Stokes as a front-line batter and fill-in pacer, and having only four top-line bowlers, Curran, Bess, Leach and Anderson. If one of Curran or Anderson were to break down this side would then be using Stokes as a new-ball bowler, which makes it a very high risk strategy.

THOMAS’S PICK

Overall I would like one out and out ‘blitzman’ bowler in the team, and picking only two top line pacers for a test match is too rich even for my blood, so with all respect to Sam Curran I am going for Extra Pace I as my bowling combo. Injuries not intervening a possible line-up for match 1 if I was doing the selecting would be:

  1. Beaumont (see here for more on this controversial choice)
  2. Burns
  3. Roy (no 3 has been difficult for some time and Roy is at least in splendid form)
  4. *Root 
  5. Buttler
  6. +Foakes
  7. Gregory
  8. Archer
  9. Bess
  10. Leach
  11. Anderson

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Lashings Weekend

An account of Lashings World XI’s visit to Charterhouse School, Godalming on Sunday July 9, with lots of pictures.

INTRODUCTION

My mother has just spent a year teaching at Charterhouse School, Godalming (it moved to its present site from the original London Charterhouse in 1873), and the cricket coach there is the former Surrey and England quick Martin Bicknell who also happens to be the current captain of the Lashings World XI. Thus they came to Charterhouse on Sunday to play the school side in the morning and an adult team in the afternoon. I was there to see both games…

GETTING THERE

The journey from King’s Lynn to deepest Surrey (my mother had booked us two nights at an air bnb near Ockley which is roughly midway between Dorking (Surrey) and Horsham (Sussex), two places with fine cricketing connections. Dorking was the home town of Harry Jupp, an adhesive opening batter in the 19th century (when W G Grace clocked up his 50th first class hundred in 1875 Jupp was second on the list of first class century makers with 10). There is a story that once when playing in a benefit game at Dorking Jupp was castled by the first ball of the match and promptly replaced the bails, and when a fielder dared to ask “ain’t you going out Juppy” he said “No, not at Dorking I ain’t”. Jupp played for England in the first ever test match and found himself keeping wicket as well as performing his regular role because the tour party’s only specialist gloveman, Ted Pooley, was in a New Zealand prison after a ruckus involving a betting trick. Horsham meanwhile is associated with the Tate family who produced two England players, the ill-starred Fred Tate (one test appearance in which he dropped a crucial catch and was clean bowled with England a boundary hit short of victory, and the legendary Maurice, star of two successful Ashes series (1926 and 1928-9) and also a bit-part player in the 1932-3 triumph under Douglas Jardine. Here are some photos from the journey and of our accommodation:

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I spotted these on the way out of King’s Lynn
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A stately home just visible from the motorway in central Essex.
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The first of four shots from the bridge at Dartford.

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A natural pond immediately outside our accommodation.
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This picture is above the bed in the only private bedroom (there is also a bed in the main body of the cabin, which my parents took enabling me to have some privacy.
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Some pictures (five in total) from inside said bedroom – the wood panelling and a lack of functioning lights made the entire building a trifle dark, and the bedroom a lot so.

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On the morning of the big day.

THE DAY ITSELF

The weather was poor at first, and we retired briefly to a coffee shop in Godalming itself when  it was obvious that the first match would be delayed (since I am having an important operation on Friday – posting may be light in the near future – it was important that I should not over exposed to the cold and wet). We ended up missing the first four overs of a contest that had been reduced to 12 overs per side (the second match was played over the full 20 overs per side that had been intended). As captain of Lashings and coach of the school team Bicknell could not lose the first match. In the event the school side came out victorious, as Lashings were not at full throttle in that match. John Emburey, considerably older than most of the rest of the Lashings squad, took a particular hammering in that game.

This match was followed by a lunch in a marquee which featured an auction and a business card raffle (we used mine, as I was the only one of the three of us who actually had one, and we also used my email address as I am less bothered by spam, since I receive huge numbers of emails anyway). The auction items were ludicrously over priced even allowing for the fact that this was a charity event (I speak with a degree of knowledge given my occupation when well).

The afternoon match featured an adult team in opposition to Lashings, and this time Lashings did not hold back. They started by making 161 from their 20 overs (Faisal Iqbal 71), a very respectable total, which rapidly looked much more so, as Lashings opened the bowling with Sir Curtly Ambrose who bowled a couple of overs at something approaching full hostility – comfortably the quickest we saw all day -, on which the opposition could hardly lay a bat and Devon Malcolm who was also difficult to get away (after four overs the opposition had limped to 5-1 and the victory target of 162 looked very distant indeed. Even Emburey’s spinners had more zip to them in this game, and Lashings ended up winning by 54 runs. Among others who were involved for Lashings on the day were Bickers himself (of course), Chris Lewis (the shiny scalp, once a matter of choice, but now one suspects a matter of ,was in evidence!), Kabir Ali and Saqlain Mushtaq. An official report on these matches can be seen here.

The business card raffle draw came out in my favour – I won a bottle of wine which looks decidedly drinkable.

Finally, before my photographs from the day a note on a couple of Charterhouse’s own cricket connections: In a cricketing context undoubtedly the most famous of all Carthusians was Peter Barker Howard May, but the remarkable late Victorian figure of Robert Montagu Poore also merits a look.

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These pictures are presented in the order in which they were taken. In a few cases there are two different final pictures from the same original – if you fancy a challenge see if you can identify them.

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This remarkable building houses the Godalming branch of Costa Coffee.

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An action shot.

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The players together at the end of match 1.
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Bickers at the mic.

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Various Lashings players are in this shot, with the towering (literally and metaphorically) figure of Sir Curtly Ambrose near right.

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This was the last shot I got before the battery in my camera ran out.

World Cup Final Stages Approaching

A look at the permutations for the semi-finals of the Men’s Cricket World Cup (nb the inaugural Women’s Cricket World Cup took place in 1973, two years before the men got started), plus a shed,load of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The 2019 cricket men’s world cup semi-finals are all but sorted now. This post examines the possible permutations.

FAREWELLS

Afghanistan, The West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh and Pakistan are heading home after the group stage unless Pakistan can beat Bangladesh by 320 runs or thereabouts (due to the workings of “net run rates” Pakistan cannot go through if Bangladesh bat first).

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SEMIS

Barring an astonishing miracle result for Pakistan against Bangladesh the semi finals will be Australia v New Zealand and England v India. Three of these four teams definitely deserve to be there, while New Zealand are somewhat fortunate, and arrive in the semi-finals on a serious downturn having been thumped in their last two games, one by England.

SEMI FINAL 1: AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND

Australia will be heavy favourites for this one, having played well throughout, while New Zealand have been poor in their last two games. Although I would love to see New Zealand deliver a sucker punch to the Aussies I cannot see it happening, therefore my prediction for this one is that Australia will win and go through to the final.

SEMI FINAL 2: ENGLAND V INDIA

Having put themselves under pressure by indifferent early from England have hit top gear just in time, despatching India and New Zealand in their last two games, both by comfortable margins. India had already secured their place in the semifinals by the time they came up against England. In view of the record of chasing sides in this competition so far I reckon that whoever wins the toss must opt to bat first and get their runs on the board. If England win that toss and make the right decision I reckon that they will win, just as they did in the group game between the two sides. If India bat first they will be favourites but I will not rule out England completely even then. Overall prediction: England, but I would not put money on it.

POTENTIAL FINALS

  • Australia v England – This will depend heavily on the toss – if England get their runs on the board they will be favourites, likewise Australia. I think England would be marginally less likely to lose chasing than Australia, so by the thickness of a cigarette paper I make them favourites if this final materialises.
  • Australia v India – Again this will come down to the toss – assuming they make the correct decision whoever wins it collects the cup.
  • New Zealand v England – New Zealand would be cock-a-whoop at beating Australia but may also be unable having achieved that to summon up the resolve for one last effort, and based on the group game between the two I would make England firm favourites for this one.
  • New Zealand v India – India would be favourites for this one for the same reasons as England in the one above.

Of these potential finals I would most like it to be New Zealand v England, with England b Australia 2nd choice and New Zealand v India third choice. A win for either New Zealand or England would be a first in the men’s world cup, while for India it would be their third triumph and for Australia their sixth. A final thought: If the miracle happens in the Pakistan v Bangladesh game then I believe that sheer relief at managing to qualify will be enough to propel Pakistan to victory – in that circumstance they would be alone among the four semi-finalists in having no pressure on them.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign-off…

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Gettring really good pictures of these butterflies is a challenge – this one is porbably my best yet.

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A female pheasant views the world from atop a car at The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House.

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The weights we use for some of our exercises during therapy sessions at Tapping House.
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Raffe prizes at Tapping House
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I bought a ticket to support the cause, and this would be my first choice prize should the opportunity arise.

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World Cup Hotting Up

Some more thoughts about the 2019 cricket world cup/

INTRODUCTION

Bangladesh and Afghanistan are in action today in the cricket world cup, and following several interesting results and very tight games over the last few days there is more riding on this game than would have been expected.

THE PERMUTATIONS

Afghanistan are definitely not going to qualify for the next stage, since they are without a win so far, but a win for them would make their presence at the world cup harder to argue with (I firmly believe that they should be here, and that the tournament should have involved more teams in any case – see here). If Bangladesh win they will give themselves a serious chance of qualifying for the next stage, which in turn would give tomorrow’s match between international cricket’s two oldest foes – England and Australia – even more of a needle match than it already would be.

Bangladesh were put in and made 262-8 from their 50 overs, a gettable total, but Afghanistan are not the best chasers – they muffed a chase of barely 200 against Sri Lanka earlier in the tournament. I am not sure whether an outsider making the last four or the lowest ranked team in the tournament recording a win means more, but either situation has plenty going for it. Whichever happens it can be said to be one in the eye for the myopic ones who openly resent the presence of lesser ranking teams (there are still a few of these around sadly). Yesterday there was a fine finish to New Zealand v West Indies, when a magnificent innings by Carlos Brathwaite nearly pulled the game out of the fire for the Windies.

After some poor weather threatened to spoil it this world cup is now shaping up very well. I continue to maintain that more teams should be involved – these tournaments should be used to grow the game, and a tournament with “world” in its title should be truly global (as for an American-only championship being called “The World Series”, that is just beneath contempt).

PICTURES

My usual sign off, this time in several parts…

NEW PURCHASES

James and Sons recently held an auction at which I won three lots…

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Lot 293 (two pics)

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Lot 416 (four images)

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Lot 446

HUNSTANTON BEACH HUT

NAS West Norfolk hired the Mencap beach hut at Hunstanton for the day, and I was given a lift (thank you Rick and Emma)…

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BEES AND BUTTERFLIES

I have lavender growing outside my front window, and that attracts these creatures in numbers (I think judging by size and appearance that butterflies are Large Tortoiseshells)…

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This is a jay – bringing the number of species of corvids I have seen outside my bungalow to four – rooks, jackdaws and magpies as well.

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